James O'Brien

I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Red Wings reportedly hope to get Kronwall (knee) back by end of season


It’s been a day of bad news for teams hoping to cement Eastern Conference playoff spots so far.

First, word came that Evgeni Malkin is likely sidelined through a round or two of the playoffs. Now the Detroit Red Wings are grappling with worries about a lower-body injury for crucial defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

While the early reports indicated that it wasn’t serious, perhaps that’s a matter of semantics; Kronwall had an MRI on his knee and the Red Wings hope he can be back by the end of the regular season, according to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox.

Perhaps it’s all about how you’re looking at it, as there were some who were concerned that it was pretty significant.

After a home game tomorrow, the Red Wings face a significant stretch of four road games:

March 15: at Flyers
March 17: at Blue Jackets
March 19: at Panthers
March 22: at Lightning

Three of those four teams have something on the line, and Columbus has at least some spoiler potential, so facing even that short-term hurdle hurts without Kronwall.

Then again, if they can slog through the season and keep their playoff streak alive, perhaps Kronwall will be there to dish out big hits and a nice bit of offense.

Video: Mike Condon is going to want this one back


In a way, this moment captures the feel of Mike Condon‘s season.

It starts out with optimism: there Condon was, looking for a Montreal Canadiens teammate to hit with an outlet pass.

In the middle, there’s horror, as it’s clear that the pass is likely to go to a Minnesota Wild player, instead.

The ending is a combination of misery and humiliation. You know, kind of like the Habs’ lost season.

Goals like the one in the video almost kind of make you feel bad for the guy.

Alexei Emelin‘s injury made a bad day worse, too.

Flyers say Andrew MacDonald (lower body) is day-to-day

The Philadelphia Flyers announced that defenseman Andrew MacDonald is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The polarizing defenseman’s absence may be considered “addition by subtraction” to some, at least judging by the narrative surrounding his season, particularly when he was demoted to the AHL despite his $30 million contract.

That said, MacDonald’s been averaging about 21 minutes of ice time per game, so that’s a consideration for a Flyers team hoping to chase the wounded Pittsburgh Penguins for a playoff spot during the stretch run.

Helm, Red Wings frustrate Lundqvist and Rangers with OT rally


Henrik Lundqvist finished his first game back with the New York Rangers in a foul mood, which seems a lot like how he entered his brief injury break.

This time around, it was the Detroit Red Wings leaving Lundqvist grumbling with a late rally that transformed into a 3-2 overtime win.

Former Rangers forward Brad Richards sent the game into overtime with a power-play goal in the dying seconds of the third period. After that, Darren Helm‘s second goal of the night was the overtime-clincher.

Lundqvist was impressive in his return, earning “reflexes of a cat”-type compliments.

Those flattering remarks probably don’t mean much to a feisty Lundqvist.

As you can see from that tweet, the (Evgeni Malkin-less) Pittsburgh Penguins will face an angry Lundqvist tomorrow, which is fitting in a way since they’re the team that made him so irritated a little more than a week ago.

Bold prediction: someone will bring up Marc-Andre Fleury describing Lundqvist’s antics as “baby stuff” tomorrow.

Oh no, Geno: Penguins say Evgeni Malkin is out 6-8 weeks


Awful news for the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday: the team announced that Evgeni Malkin is expected to miss six-to-eight weeks with an upper-body injury.

Malkin suffered that issue in what looks to be a costly win from Friday. You can see the likely moment of injury in the video above.

There is about a month left in the season, so if that six-to-eight week window is accurate (we’ve seen players like Patrick Kane come back surprisingly early when the playoffs are involved), then the Penguins would need to win a round or two for Malkin to play again in 2016-17.

The high-scoring forward has been banged up at times this season, and the Penguins have been able to scrap together wins, but now they’ll need to hold onto their playoff spot without him.

This continues a rather disturbing pattern of injuries around playoff time for Pittsburgh, as it seems rare that they’ve gone into many postseasons with all of Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury at 100 percent.

They’re probably not quite “used to it” even if they’ve been through this before.

One small silver lining: